Carlo's Corner: No need to bother with the news

Rather than following the news, we might as well just drive large rusty nails in our eyes to save time.

I am not going to bother following the news any more, I am just going to wake up each morning and drive large rusty nails straight into my eyeballs to save time.

After all, efficiency is our new watchword, according to treasurer Joe Hockey. We must all play our part in doing more with less.

This is why the government maintains a strict policy of silence on so many key matters. No longer can we assume we are entitled to be unspeakably depressed by the news. We must take the initiative and stand on our own two feet and imagine all the horrific, soul-destroying things this mob of ultra-reactionary racist, misogynistic, poor-hating bastards known as the Abbott government are getting up to.

Or we can listen to what they say when they are overseas. Hockey told a meeting of the G20 in Washington that when it comes to the upcoming budget “the end of the investment boom in resources necessitates a winding back of some spending Australians have taken for granted”.

Leaving aside the most obvious response of “well, that's why we should have properly taxed the bastards during the boom”, we have a few hints as to what we should “no longer take for granted”.

The right to health care regardless of income. The right to retire at a decent age. The right to a minimum wage, if Abbott and Hockey's mates at the Institute of Public Affairs get their way.

A few things a tiny minority of Australians can, without a doubt, keep taking for granted are the billions of dollars in hidden taxpayer-funded subsidies going to the big four banks. The actual amount of our money handed to these banks, which repay us so kindly with job cuts and hidden fees, is not for the likes of us to know, but ABC News reported on April 2 that private research outfit Morgij Analytics “came up with a rather jaw dropping figure of $11.1 billion as the aggregate taxpayer-funded subsidy in Australia”.

We could add the billions in subsidies to mining and fossil fuel giants as things that can safely be taken for granted. But those of us who don't own a big bank or mining corporation, must pay our way — and death is no excuse.

ABC News reported on April 7 that the government was very worried about outstanding student debts estimated to be $1.1 billion, which — to give a sense of just how huge that is — amounts to about a tenth of the no-strings-attached taxpayer cash handed to the big banks.

No wonder, then, that the Grattan Institute's Higher Education Program director Andrew Norton advocates the use of debt collectors to get this money back — even if the debtor has died.

Grieving families have to understand that the government has bills to pay, mainly in subsidies to the very rich.